Dear Minnesota Representatives, Senators, and Governor Dayton:
HF 1265, the appropriations bill for the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, deletes the LCCMR’s recommendation to fund $4,500,000 for Scientific and Natural Area “Acquisition, Restoration and Citizen Science Engagement.”
Minnesota’s 160+ Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs) are among Minnesota’s most precious natural resources. They contain rare plants and animals, along with imperiled habitat of exceptional scientific and educational value.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, LCCMR appropriations are by far the largest and most important source of funding for Minnesota’s Scientific and Natural Areas Program. This funding loss will:
- Eliminate upcoming acquisitions of approximately 500 acres of at risk native plant communities and wildlife habitat of state significance, identified by the Minnesota Biological Survey.
- Eliminate all funding support for SNA outreach work – including no support for the site steward network, no DNR-organized volunteer events, no citizen-science activities, no updates to SNA webpage and maps, no quarterly e-newsletter or other publications, and no SNA social media.
- Eliminate resources to do SNA conservation easement monitoring as required by Op. Order #128.
- Eliminate funding for new Natural Area Registry agreements to gain protection of high quality natural resources owned and managed by other organizations.
- Suspend work to with partners and landowners to identify and cultivate protection of the most vulnerable and highest quality habitats.
- Eliminate or seriously reduce funding for division staff to provide technical oversight and work with partners doing projects on SNAs.
- Seriously reduce funding for SNA restoration, enhancement, and development work – particularly for forest habitats not currently funded by any LSOHC appropriations.
- Seriously reduce DNR’s resources to prepare ecological management plans and do ecological monitoring (including those required by LSOHC and LCCMR for restorations and recent acquisitions).
- Loss of 2 years of funding for 11.8 full-time equivalent of staff.
Therefore, we respectfully request the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Dayton to restore the LCCMR recommendation to fund $4.5 million for “Scientific and Natural Area Acquisition, Restoration and Citizen Science Engagement.”